‘Life After a PhD’ Q & A on the Guardian Higher Education Network

What on earth do you do with a PhD?

It seemed like a good idea at the time: I was obsessed with learning and devoted to widening people’s awareness of the significance of Digital and New Media art forms. But like most post-PhD’ers, I’ve often wondered why I worked so hard for a qualification that leads to yet more hard work – and that’s before you’ve even landed the job!

Here I am excitedly rushing out of my Viva as Dr Charlotte Frost after which I promptly drank a lot of Champagne (and soon didn’t sound like someone with a PhD at all) and then woke up to the worst hangover ever – although it that had nothing whatsoever to do with the fizz. This was the PhD hangover, because now I had to fight to make my career work for me and if I’m really honest, I was pooped!

As a result, I’m always at pains to point out to people that PhDs:

A) probably aren’t what you think they are. Yes, I know you think I played on the internet all day long and got to indulge myself in writing about something I’m deeply passionate about, but it was often a whole lot more like pulling my own teeth out one by one.


B) are supposed to lead to a career in academia but with current cuts to funding and shifts in policy there’s really no guarantee, and then what do you do?!

Don’t get me wrong, there are tremendous benefits to PhD study, but we will all have to become increasingly more realistic about what can be achieved and whether doing one in the first place is the right decision. Additionally, those already doing PhDs will need to plan well in advance for the hangover and get plenty of things in place to make it though.

This Friday between 1.00pm and 4.00pm I’ll be involved in a live Q and A on the Guardian Higher Education Network tackling the subject of ‘Life After a PhD‘. As part of this, I’ll be looking at what I’ve done with the last year – from setting up now tremendously successful projects like PhD2Published and Arts Future Book; getting a contract to write a book; doing post-doctoral fellowships; collecting teaching gigs; networking; and making ends almost meet in completely non-academic work.

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